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Asia markets trade lower amid US political uncertainty

運営事務局 JIMOPLE 16 September 25, 2019

Asia markets traded lower Wednesday morning as investors watch for developments in the United States after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.57% in early trade as shares of index heavyweights Softbank Group and Fanuc fell 2.11% and 1.74%, respectively. The Topix index also declined 0.48%.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi shed 0.54%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 also declined 0.7%.

The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.19% lower.

Pelosi announced the inquiry after huddling with key House committee chairs, the Democratic leadership team and finally her entire caucus. She has long called impeachment "divisive" as her party tries not to rile up Republican voters ahead of a 2020 election where the Democrats hope to keep their House majority and deny Trump a second term as president.

Tuesday's announcement came following reports about a call Trump had earlier this year with Ukraine's leader, Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump allegedly pressured him to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden's family. For his part, Trump said on Tuesday he would release the full transcript of the controversial call.

The move also triggered a sell-off in U.S. equities: The S&P 500 saw its largest one-day drop since August 23, falling 0.8% to close at 2,966.60. The Nasdaq Composite also had its worst day in a month, ending its trading day lower by 1.5% at 7,993.63. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 142.22 points at 26,807.77.

As of Tuesday evening stateside, futures pointed to a muted open for stocks on Wall Street at Wednesday's open.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.388 after slipping from levels around 98.700 yesterday.

Elsewhere, on the trade front, Trump said Tuesday that he will not accept a ""bad deal" with Beijing, ahead of negotiations between the two largest economies of the world that are set to happen in the coming weeks. The U.S. and China since last year have applied tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other's goods, which has roiled global markets, created uncertainty and dampened economic growth outlooks around the world.

Meanwhile, interest rate decisions are expected from the central banks in New Zealand and Thailand on Wednesday.

The Japanese yen, often viewed as a safe-haven currency in times of uncertainty, traded at 107.10 against the dollar after strengthening from levels above 107.5 in the previous session.

The Australian dollar was at $0.6796 after rising from levels below $0.678 yesterday.

Oil prices declined Wednesday morning during Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures slipping 0.9% to $62.53 per barrel. The U.S. crude futures contract also shed 0.79% to $56.84 per barrel.

What's on tap:

  • New Zealand: Reserve Bank of New Zealand official cash rate decision at 10:00 a.m. HK/SIN
  • Thailand: Bank of Thailand Monetary Policy Committee meeting and decision at 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN
  • Hong Kong: Shanghai Henlius Biotech debuts on HKEX

— CNBC's Fred Imbert and Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.